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Interfaith Marriage Aims

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Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LMFT


Because of my expertise in the areas of marriage and family, I have been examining inter-Christian and intercultural marriages across the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. A few of the reasons this work was initiated are as follows:
  • Nearly 2/3 of marriages (65%) conducted in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) are inter-Christian and intercultural in composition. Some are also interracial.
  • Families are of central importance to Greek Orthodox Americans’ individual and collective psychological, physical, religious and spiritual well-being.
  • Healthy marriages have a positive impact on individual and family well-being, while unhealthy marriages have a reverse effect.
  • Professionals from a variety of philosophical perspectives are writing about marriages and families. Our Orthodox voice should also be heard.
  • Reports given by the Interchurch and Interfaith Committee at the 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 Clergy-Laity Congresses asserted that a failure to reach out to interfaith couples and their families could be detrimental to the future well-being and viability of many of the churches in the GOA.
As a result, the GOA commissioned me to develop and initiate the Interfaith Research Project (IRP). This research was funded by Leadership 100.The following points describe the primary objectives of this work:
  • To acquire a more thorough understanding of what special challenges and obstacles intermarried couples and their families face.
  • To document the lived experiences, observations, and interpretations of a select group of "stakeholders" who might either be personally interested in this topic or have special insight to contribute to this project. (Examples of stakeholders might be intermarried couples, clergy, social scientists, individuals from failed intermarriages, theologians, and lay leaders).
  • To generate resources that will assist our seminarians, clergy, lay workers and lay leaders in their efforts to minister to intermarried spouses, their marriages and their families.
  • To generate resources for intermarried spouses, couples and their families who attend one of the churches in the GOA.
  • To develop seminars and presentations for (a) future seminarians, (b) clergy, (c) intermarried couples, and (c) our laity. These seminars would seek to help participants acquire a deeper understanding and sensitivity for the special needs and challenges that intermarried spouses, couples and families encounter.
  • To begin developing user-friendly, effectual methods, approaches, and programs that can assist clergy and lay leaders in their efforts to minister to interfaith marriages and families.
  • To develop a Department of Interfaith Marriages, together with an infrastructure that would seek to facilitate this work at all levels of the GOA.